Le Grammont

Continued….

For my last day in Europe, all I really wanted was some better weather, which was starting to seem like too much to ask. I briefly considered a climb of Dents du Midi, the highpoint of the Chablais Alps above Geneva, but the summer route certainly wasn’t in season and I wanted a bit more of a sure thing. Running through some maps, I stumbled upon Le Grammont, just over 2000 meters and at the northern end of the Chablais Alps directly over Lake Geneva. The views would be spectacular I thought, a nice way to end the trip. I again woke up early in Les Houches, and drove through France and back into Switzerland, oddly, never once stopped at the multiple border crossings throughout the entire trip. As I crossed the pass into Switzerland, I was greeted with a brilliant, warm sunrise, somewhat symbolic of the perpetual rain I was escaping.

Hello Switzerland, I missed you.
Hello Switzerland, I missed you.

I drove north towards Lake Geneva and had a look at the Dents du Midi covered in fresh snow. Climbing them was definitely out of the question without technical gear.

Dents du Midi.
Dents du Midi.

I continued on through the small town of Vouvry and switched back up the valley to the trailhead parking at 1200 meters. Had I read German or French, I would have known from the sign that I could have continued another 200 meters higher in my high clearance vehicle to the pass above Lac du Tanay, but alas I do not, and I started out under sunny skies through the forest up to the pass. After 200 meters of ascent, the trail drops minimally into the small town of Tanay, basically a small mountain lakeside resort, with a few small cottages and hotels.

Alamont above Lac du Tanay.
Alamont above Lac du Tanay.
The small town.
The small town.

No one was out yet the early hour, and I continued on past, heading up switchbacks to the Col des Crosses at 1900 meters. I was most impressed by the granite peaks in the area, much more dramatic then I had expected from the maps, with the twin peaks of Les Jumelles towering dramatically over the valley next to Le Grammont. I thought I may be able to climb those as well, although the route at this point was not clear.

The twin peaks of Les Juimelles.
The twin peaks of Les Jumelles.

I took a short break near a farm still closed for the summer, then looked up to find the whispy clouds that had filled the valley were quickly being replaced by thick clouds about to over take me. I picked up the pace, hoping to beat the clouds for views of Lake Geneva, but I was overtaken when I hit the Col, and lost in clouds intermittently the rest of the hike. Although the view was obscured, it was clear from the col that the north side was not ideal to climb Les Jumelles with steep scree and technical headwalls, and likely an ascending traverse from the southwest would work well.

North side of Les Jumelles.
North side of Les Jumelles.

But again with no visibility, an off-trail scramble on borderline technical granite peaks wouldn’t be in the cards for the day, and I continued along the trail, past a small herd of mountain goats, and up to the summit. Like nearly every summit I had visited in Switzerland, this had a large cross standing proudly at the high point. There were spotty views to the south through the clouds, and small glimpses of Lake Geneva down below, nothing like the view I had imagined.

Summit cross.
Summit cross.
The tiniest view of Lake Geneva.
The tiniest view of Lake Geneva.

I waited about 30 minutes hoping for the clouds to move, but every time one slipped off the mountain, another moved in from the south. Giving up on my views, but at least content with a summit, I dropped back down to the Col, passing the first few hikers I had seen for the day. About 100 meters below the col was a side trail to Alamont, another small summit directly over Lac du Tanay.

Side trail to Alamont.
Side trail to Alamont.

I followed this short detour and headed up to the shorter, rocky summit adorned with, you guessed it, another wooden cross. There were decent views of the lake below and Tache across the valley, and I tagged the higher, but less interesting grassy summit before heading down.

Summit cross part two.
Summit cross part two.
Lac du Tanay and Tache across the valley.
Lac du Tanay and Tache across the valley.
Low summit from the higher summit.
Low summit from the higher summit.

Looking at my map, it seemed I could loop down to the southeast instead of hiking back to the main trail, so I followed a thin, almost imperceptible trail across the ridge to the east, dropping into a grassy bowl with more mountain goats, then down to the lake, mucky from cattle that seemed to have been through recently.

Lac du Tanay.
Lac du Tanay.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom there it was easy hiking down the road along the lake, back to the Col de Tanay and another 200 meters of descent back to the car. From there, I drove down to Lake Geneva to tour the Chateau de Chillon, one of the most famous castles in Switzerland, built on an island a few feet off the coast. From the castle, I had the views I had been hoping for across the lake, and up to Le Grammont, still socked in with clouds long into the afternoon. From there, I drove several hour to my hotel in Baden, and woke up early the next morning for my flight back to the US.

Le Grammont in clouds.
Le Grammont in clouds.
Chateau de Chillon
Chateau de Chillon

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